(HealthDay News) — For nurses, shifts that last 12 hours or more are associated with a 40% higher level of job discontentment and a 31% higher risk of planning to quit when compared with shifts that are eight hours or less, according to a report published online September 10 in BMJ Open.

Researchers surveyed 31,627 registered nurses from 488 hospitals in 12 European countries. The average age of the nurses was 38, and most were women. Half of the study participants worked eight-hour or shorter shifts. Nearly one-third of the nurses worked shifts lasting eight to 10 hours. Four percent worked up to 12 hours, and 14% worked 12–13 hours at a time. Only 1% of those polled worked shifts that lasted more than 13 hours.

The researchers found that about 25% of the nurses said they weren’t satisfied with their job. A similar percentage was also not happy with the flexibility of their work schedule. One-third of the nurses surveyed said they planned to leave their job. Working overtime was linked to poor outcomes in all aspects of job satisfaction – regardless of how many extra hours they worked.

“Current literature tends to report that 12-hour shifts represent a way to retain nurses in hospital clinical practice because it is believed to be the preferred shift length and that nurses are more satisfied with their jobs: our results suggest the opposite,” study author Chiara Dall’Ora, from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues write. “Therefore, our findings pose substantial questions for managers, most notably because job satisfaction is a consistent and robust predictor of remaining in a job.”

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